Walk a mile in these shoes; it’s an easy stroll
Last updated 3/15/2018 at Noon
You may be familiar with the proverb, “You never truly know someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes.”
Jim Pelzel could easily adapt that axiom to his line of work. Pelzel owns SAS Comfort Shoes in Lynnwood, across from the Alderwood Mall.
A third-generation shoe store owner, Pelzel really knows shoes. Not surprisingly, he can honestly say you don’t really know #good# shoes until you’ve walked a mile in a pair of SAS footwear.
Millions of satisfied customers have been doing just that since co-founders Terry Armstrong and Lew Hayden launched San Antonio Shoemakers in that Texas city in 1976.
Countering a national trend of diminishing quality and cheap foreign manufacturing, the partners wanted to craft shoes that would set a new standard in quality footwear.
They achieved that goal, and then some. Today, SAS Shoes are made in America two factories in Texas and carried in more than 200 stores and retailers around the world.
Each pair of shoes undergoes painstaking craftsmanship and rigorous quality control. There are 14 primary operations, including leather selection, die-making, cutting, lasting and more. Some 360 sets of hands touch every shoe.
SAS has become the go-to brand for people who are on their feet all day, such as restaurant servers, store clerks and shop foremen, as well as middle age and older people who prize comfort as well as style. Quality features include waterproof materials and slip-resistant soles.
Pelzel was born into the shoe business. His grandfather ran several shoe stores, his father went into the family business as well, and Pelzel and his sister followed suit. “You don’t see many third generation people staying in the family business,” Pelzel noted.
Over the years, the family ran several stores and sold a variety of brands. As a young man, Pelzel himself tended to buy cheap shoes for himself, not concerned much with quality and comfort.
That all changed with his discovery of SAS shoes. Like his faithful customers, Pelzel appreciates that SAS shoes are comfortable, long-lasting, and good to his feet. In fact, with unparalleled fit SAS offers 88 sizes for women and 104 for men customers discover they provide astonishing comfort. They’re excellent for people dealing with neuropathies, hammer toe and other foot issues.
Pelzel was so sold on SAS, he and his sister now own stores in Vancouver, B.C. as well as the Lynnwood store.
What goes hand-in-hand with quality footwear? Matchless service, of course. It may seem easy to buy shoes online, until they arrive and don’t fit, or have defects or other problems, and have to be returned.
At SAS Shoes in Lynnwood, they make sure you don’t walk out the door with the wrong shoes.
“You can’t get that old-fashioned feeling of service when you buy online,” Pelzel said. “It’s a relationship, not just clicking a button.”
Store manager Jim Pallotta said the majority of their customers are looking for comfort first, but style is a close second. That’s particularly important to women and professional men.
“You’re not running marathons in SAS shoes,” Pallotta said. “You’re working. You’re shopping.” As styles have evolved, SAS has taken pains not to sacrifice standards while offering shoes that have “a little flair,” he said.
“Our customers know their feet,” Pallotta said. “We don’t let a customer leave with a shoe they’re not happy with.”
With a focus on service, SAS Lynnwood offers a comfortable, casual atmosphere where customers can try on shoes at their leisure, have a cup of coffee or tea or a bottle of water, compare styles and discuss their needs with staff members who know shoes inside and out.
Pallotta said it’s not unusual for adults to bring in their elderly parents who may have foot pain. “They’ll see their parents trying on our shoes, and then try them on, too,” he said, “because they’re starting to see the importance of their feet.”
SAS Lynnwood extends its emphasis on service in other ways, too. Pelzel said they hold twice-yearly sales the Spring sale is coming in April and they’ll happily provide “pop-up” shop service in which they’ll travel to retirement communities, businesses or other group settings with a variety of shoes to inspect and try on.
Of course, they also offer a range of accessory products, such as moisture and temperature control socks, shoe polish, cleaners and brushes.
You don’t have to walk that mile to know why SAS shoes are so popular. But to wear them is to know them; it’s a relationship you’ll come to love.